Monday, November 01, 2004

Kibaki's Neo-Colonial Madness

Onyango Oloo Looks at Kibaki's Cynical Attempt to Cover Up The Rich-Poor Divide in Kenya

1.0. Respect Is Due To This Fighter Against Neo-Colonial Oppression in Africa

Fela Anikulapo Kuti is still alive even though he died in 1997:

Fela Kuti is remembered not just for his outrageous showmanship and inimitable courage in opposing neo-colonialism and the Nigerian military dictatorship. He is also remembered as a fierce Pan Africanist. Of course, we are not going to perpetuate a Fela personality cult or engage in 21st century Afrocentric hagiography. Fela the gifted musician and trenchant social critic had deep flaws precisely because he was human like the rest of us. Everyone knows about his very well publicized foibles and frailties.

Two of the best assessments of Fela’s legacy appeared in the journal of the SACP, the African Communist and the London Observer respectively. In the latter piece you can see how Fela famously snubbed an overture from Paul McCartney to do a joint recording and receive a boost in international exposure.

Most of Fela’s compositions were political in one form or another- apart from being very loooooooooooooooooooooooooonnggg….not unlike some Kenyan digital essays some people have come across on certain blogs.

One of his classics is "ITT" in which he is denouncing the multinational that he rechristened “International Thief Thief”. It is significant that Fela Kuti started opposing

Olusegun Obasanjo when he was still a military dictator and

Chief Moshood Abiola before he had been transformed via his death into a multiparty saint.

Take a listen to “International Thief Thief” by clicking here.

Another song which needs no explanation is "Colonial Mentality" that you can hear here.

Femi Kuti has followed in his father’s footsteps while emerging as a new global superstar in his own right. If you have ever been present at any of Femi’s non-stop high energy concerts where he sings, plays and dances for almost one and a half hours straight without a break then you know what I am talking about

Fela Anikulapo Kuti used to sing in Nigerian pidgin, which is sometimes difficult to decipher. Thankfully, one of his thousands of aficionados has created site where you can get an English translation of those lyrics. Click here to begin your Fela Awareness Course.

2.0. President Mwai Kibaki Solidifies His Neo-Colonial Credentials




Can you believe this?

The President of Kenya has just appointed a former British minister who sits on the board of a multinational corporation to be part of a team to look at social and economic inequality in Kenya.

Let me run that by you again, in case you fainted from shock and disbelief the first time around:

Bwana Emilio Mwai Kibaki, Chairman of the DP faction that dominates the fractious NARC ruling clique in Kenya has decided to embarrass ALL KENYANS by kowtowing to our former colonial UK masters by hand-picking Baroness Lynda Chalker to be part of a team infested with millionaires, cronies, tribal side kicks and sycophantic careerists; an elitist, bureaucrat heavy, top down team that will ostensibly examine why there is social and economic inequality in Kenya.

Still don’t believe me?

Well doubting reader, Read this for yourself OK?

See what I am talking about?

Here is the relevant quote:

Called the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), the new team features people with impeccable credentials. From his Cabinet, President Kibaki has chosen rising stars like Prof Anyang' Nyong'o (Planning and National Development), Mr Mukhisa Kituyi (Trade) and Mr Kipruto Kirwa (Agriculture). Also to be represented on the NESC are such dependables as Education's Prof George Saitoti, Mrs. Charity Ngilu, the Health minister, and - with a view to job creation - Labour minister Newton Kulundu. Their permanent secretaries will provide continuity by serving with them. And adding financial clout are Finance minister David Mwiraria and the governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Mr Andrew Mullei. In an interesting first, President Kibaki reached out to international expertise, which included Baroness Lynda Chalker of Wallasey, a director of the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods transnational Unilever and an expert on Third Word development, having served the British Conservative government as a minister in charge of Overseas Development, specialising in African affairs. From Malaysia is Prof Lee Yee-Cheong, vice president and a senior fellow of the country's Academy of Sciences. Since 1980, he has served with the National Electricity Board Malaysia, primarily involved in power system protection, computer control of the power grid and pioneering the use of computers in power system planning. He is currently the President of World Federation of Engineering Organisations and co-chairman of the UN's Millennium Project Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation. From an increasingly assertive private sector, the President tapped Mr Ayisi Makatiani, founder of panAfrican internet start-up Africa Online, the youthful Barclays Bank managing director Adan Mohamed, investment finance expert Mr Lutaf Kassam, chairman of Investment Promotion Services, and former PS Stanley Murage. In a widely representative team, there was also the presence of icons of Kenyan enterprise like Mr Manu Chandaria, former Nairobi Stock Exchange chairman Jimnah Mbaru and horticultural exporter Homegrown's Dicky Evans plus officials from professional bodies like Ms Rose Ogega (Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya) and Dr Stephen Ochiel (Kenya Medical Association).In an apparent appreciation of the importance role of science in turning around the economy, names like that of renowned researchers Dr Calestous Juma and Dr Romano Kiome of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute also feature prominently on the team. Also in the list is US-based Sunday Nation columnist Mwende Mwinzi and Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni, who was part of former President Moi's own dream team in 2000, then as PS for transport and communications. The NESC, to be housed in the Office of the President, will be in office for three years during which it will be expected to help turn around an economy that has been in decline for a better part of the last decade and has shown no signs of a take-off.

The Daily Nation, known as one of the most faithful poodles of the ruling NAK faction was of course quick to endorse the team as having “impeccable credentials.”

Impeccable credentials my foot!

This is what I think of the so called NESC:

It is dead in the water even before meeting for the first time.



How can you have a National Economic and Social Council without INCLUDING A SINGLE SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST?

This is just ridiculous.

It is also deeply insulting.

Especially to the tax payers who will eventually foot the bill.

Apart from the outrage of picking Baroness Chalker to prove to British High Commissioner Edward Clay that Kenyans can still toss the salad for their former colonial oppressors (google for “tossing the salad” if you do not know what it means) it is simply an insult to Kenyans that such an elitist outfit that is stacked with millionaires, careerists, opportunists and social climbers can deliver the goods.

It is a slap in the face to include someone like
David Mwiraria who was IMPLICATED in the Anglo Leasing scandal.

It is mystifying to see what added value the GOVERNOR of the Central Bank of Kenya can bring to a body charged with a social equality mandate.

And Manu Chandaria??!!

What is he doing there?

As Mutahi Ngunyi correctly pointed out in Sunday Nation column, this is all Trickle Down Junk Thinking. I mean, even the die hard Reaganites dare not mouth the inanities of Reagonomics anymore.

A key feature of the so called National Economic and Social Council, which is also a dead give away is the factional background of the ministers handpicked to be part of the committee. They all come from the increasingly selfish and power mongering NAK faction.

Even a casual observer can see through this transparent cash grab, this monstrous white elephant, this complete waste of time:

It is Kibaki’s response to the fall out from the leakage of the Ndungu Report that exposed him, Moi and other fat cats as getting richer at the expense of the majority of Kenyans. It is an attempt to divert attention from the land grabbing, the disgusting grand corruption WITHIN NARC, the scuttling of the Goldenberg Inquiry and of course the inability of the NARC regime to institute a Truth and Justice Commission.

Kenyans have been waiting for eighteen months for two things:

A democratic constitution and a Truth and Justice Commission.

Why is it that Kibaki can jump start overnight, the so called NESC while pussyfooting around forever on the passage of a new democratic constitution?

Why is it that the families of the Karimi Nduthus of this world plus all those Nyayo House survivors have to continue waiting for justice even as Kibaki picks Kenyans and foreigners WHO HAVE NEVER DONE ANYTHING IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES TO WORK FOR EQUALITY IN KENYA?

It is such a shame and such a resounding slap across the face.

We are told that this NESC was established barely a day after a damning report on social and economic inequality in Kenya. Those who have not seen the actual report can access it Here.

A couple of days after that report was unleashed, I saw a news item in the Kenya Times where Kibaki’s deputy Moody Awori, was castigating NGOs for “undermining” the government, an eerie echo of the Moi dictatorship that Moody was part of not too long ago.

Some of us have argued that the reverse is true:

Many Kenyan civil society organizations have abandoned their independent vigilant watch dog role status to integrate themselves firmly into the Kibaki regime.

That is why I would be curious to know which NGOs the Vice President was referring to.

3.0. What Should Progressive Kenyans Do About Kibaki’s Latest Ujinga?

In a sense, Mwai Kibaki will continue urinating on the heads of the millions of Kenyans who voted his regime to power until Kenyans organize themselves effectively to give him and his government a very well deserved kick in the seat of their collective pants.

Kibaki has surveyed the scene and has seen the Kenyan progressive camp in almost complete disarray. His LDP adversaries DO NOT CONSULT outside their partisan ranks and they seem to be too consumed with scheming for state power in 2007 to worry too much about building an effective national democratic movement that will rejuvenate and galvanize the popular base among the wananchi and rekindle that UNBWOGABLE Spirit. Many Kenyan human rights organizations seem to have surrendered to the overseas funders, capitulated to the NAK faction and made a conscious attempt to isolate themselves from the consistent Kenyan social justice fighters within their ranks. For instance, how many civil society organizations have come out to protest the arrest of the RPP 10? How many have come out swinging against the so called NESC?

There are many rays of hope nevertheless.

One of these rays is an event being organized in late November by the Kenya Debt Relief Network and other components and allies of the Kenya Social Forum. This occasion will provide a platform as well as an outlet for Kenyan progressives and patriots to meet and I am pretty sure that the so called NESC will be on the agenda.

Even though the upcoming KCA Homecoming and AGM scheduled to be held in Kenya for the first time is strictly a WACHA SIASA Affair, I would urge all Kenyan social justice activists to attend this gathering and inject that very siasa into this coming together of Kenyans abroad and Kenyans at home. We will make arrangements to have one of our representatives participate in the public debates and you can bet your last Otonglo that we will tear viciously into the so called NESC-if we are not banned or censored from participating that is. You never know…

Overall, I would say that expecting the Kibaki regime to deliver on its pre-election pledges and chart a path towards social and economic equality in Kenya is a bit like asking a man to breast feed a brand new infant.

It just won’t happen.

Onyango Oloo

PS: As I was getting ready to upload this message, I saw a newsflash at the Nation web site informing me that a National Commission on Gender and Development has been formed with a man, Peterlis Ojwang Nyatuga heading it. The jokes keep coming…

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